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Majority of Kiwis support extension to four-year Parliament terms — poll

A referendum could be on the cards to decide whether New Zealand should lengthen the amount of time between general elections.  

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The latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll indicates the majority of people would vote in favour of a referendum expanding political terms from three years to four. Source: 1 NEWS

The latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll shows the majority of people are in favour of extending the parliamentary term from three to four years. 

The idea also has support from within Parliament itself.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she supports a four-year term.

"I know we have to work across parties to see if there is consensus there," she told 1 NEWS.

"It is a big move. I don't think it's something that should be decided unilaterally, so we'll be working on that."

Opposition leader Judith Collins agrees.

"My personal view is it's probably a good idea. There may be other people in the party who think otherwise," she says.

"I think it's something we should do a referendum on because it's a major constitutional change that would normally be expected to go to a referendum."

In the poll, people were asked: Do you support increasing the term of Government to four years? 

Sixty per cent say it should be extended to four years, 36 per cent say no, and the rest don't know or refused to answer.

The support for a four-year term has grown by five per cent since 1 NEWS asked this poll question seven years ago.

Kris Faafoi, the minister in charge, says he aims to include a referendum question at the 2023 election. 

"I think politicians extending their term is something we think the New Zealand public should have a say on."

New Zealand is one of just a handful of countries with a three-year term. 

Of those with Parliaments, 104 have elections every five years, like the UK. Seventy-four have four-year terms, including Canada, while just nine do it every three years, including Australia and New Zealand.

The concept has been put to the public twice, in 1967 and in 1990. It was voted down heavily both times. 

Political commentator Josie Pagani says MMP has dampened some of the historical concerns that you need elections more often to hold MPs to account. 

"[The public were] worried that we don't have a written constitution, we don't have a high court, a supreme court that can chuck out bad legislation, and we don't have an upper house like a lot of governments," she says.

"The first year is a photo op, you're working out what you want to do. The second year, you're quickly trying to do something. Third year, another photo op and straight into the election."

Many MPs are for it, including Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and ACT leader David Seymour.

"I think it's very challenging to make good policy in only three years, this Government seems to show," Seymour says.

Ardern says she feels most New Zealanders would be "quite supportive" of the move.